Zimbabwe is importing 150 000 tonnes of maize from Zambia in order to guard against possible grain shortages.
The Standard Editorial
This government-to-government import deal however raises serious concerns about lack of production on Zimbabwe’s farms, years after white farmers were driven off the land.
The new farmers, mainly war veterans, Zanu PF supporters and the political elite, have survived on handouts from government, some of these made available through the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s infamous quasi-fiscal operations.
The farmers continued to receive support after the consummation of the inclusive government.
In his 2013 National budget statement, Finance minister, Tendai Biti revealed that the agricultural sector had received around US$2 billion over the period 2009-2012 through government support, development partners and banks, among other channels.
There is however little to show for the billions if the new farmers in their thousands still can’t grow enough maize to feed the nation.
While they sit on the land, Treasury is forking out US$3 million to pay Zambian maize producers.
To worsen matters, every month Zimbabwe is again spending US$65 million importing chicken gizzards, livers, feet, heads and intestines.
The question that boggles the mind is: what are all these new farmers doing on the land, when we have to depend on other countries for agricultural supplies? Apart from tobacco growing, our farmers have abdicated their role and are engaging in other mundane things in order to survive.
Many have turned to illegal gold panning, poaching and are also selling firewood along the major highways. Others, who are well- connected to Zanu PF or are senior party officials, rumoured to have 10 farms each, derive satisfaction in holding onto multiple farms, that were once highly productive under the previous white owners.
In light of these circumstances, we call on authorities to prioritise a land audit that will expose multiple farm owners and those who are not utilising their land. Land should be allocated to people who want to use it if Zimbabwe is to regain its breadbasket status.